Hollywood is experiencing a mix of relief and uncertainty following the tentative settlement of the 156-day strike by the Writers Guild of America (WGA). While initial reports suggest that the writers won significant concessions from the studios, there are still challenges ahead. The deal will need to be officially adopted, which will require approval from the governing bodies of the WGA’s East and West units. Materials outlining the deal specifics have yet to be released, and union members will need to vote on ratification, a process that will take a few more weeks.
Once the deal is ratified, there will likely be a surge of announcements of projects and deals that were put on hold during the strike. Late-night talk shows and topical comedy news shows can resume with the return of the writers, but the actors are still on strike, preventing filming for many affected projects. This means that talk show writers may have to fill the entire show without appearances from actors promoting their upcoming projects.
While the WGA deal provides a framework for settling SAG-AFTRA contract concerns, the actors have their own unique contract issues that will be more difficult to resolve. The two sides are not currently engaged in negotiations. Additionally, Hollywood is going through a transformative period as it shifts towards streaming services. The industry is experiencing a reduction in program orders from streaming services, cancellations of projects, and consolidation among streaming services.
Media companies may start buying each other again, with Warner Bros. Discovery considered a prime target for acquisition. Disney is also looking to spin out ABC and other legacy broadcast and cable operations. The closure of smaller cable services is expected, leading to reductions in the number of cable networks being carried by cable providers. This will result in a loss of carriage fees and ad dollars for the affected networks and potentially lead to their closure.
The strike has also led to strained relationships within the industry, with harsh social media posts and contentious language being exchanged. The resolution of the WGA strike does not mean the end of labor unrest, as other SAG-AFTRA contracts, as well as contracts for behind-the-scenes workers, will expire in the near future.
In conclusion, while the tentative settlement of the WGA strike brings some relief to Hollywood, there are still many challenges and uncertainties that lie ahead as the industry continues to adapt to the streaming future.